LubyLou usually reviews books, (which you can read on her blog I Hug My Books), however she was so blown away by a recent visit to a new French Restaurant in Manchester City Centre that she couldn’t stop herself from writing about it.
As LubyLou’s own blog is dedicated to books, whereas Manchester Meanders is dedicated to all things Mancunian, here is Lou’s guest blog which I’ll admit made me salivate when I first read it!
Elegant and sophisticated fine French dining? Probably not.
Yet thanks to the opening of a brand new French restaurant by the name of 63 degrees, Manchester’s Northern Quarter is taking a giant leap into the realm of fine dining and the result is delicious.
I recently became aware of this gem through friends. Situated on Church Street just next to Tesco and opposite Low Rider you could be forgiven for failing to notice it. But once discovered 63 Degree’s is hard to ignore. Decadent but graceful décor blends with simple but impressive style, all topped off with a menu that will literally have you drooling outside the door, desperate to go inside.
I immediately did just that, booking a table for a Saturday. I wasn’t disappointed. The owners have managed to do a terrific job with what is realistically a very small space. The menu isn’t too overcrowded so choosing food was simple. Impressively the food came very quickly and we were soon tucking into our delectable starters. I had the Chesnut ‘cappuccino’ beech-smoked duck (£7.80) whilst my boyfriend tried the pea cream with mint, giant prawn with saffron (£7).
The pea cream came in an impressive martini glass with a giant saffron glazed prawn on the side. The vibrant green of the soup gave impressive colour to the dish whilst the addition of chunks of seafood in the soup gave texture and an extra dimension of flavour.
The duck was in fact a soup, which did give me slight reservations at first. I’m not a huge soup fan. However something about the daring menu told me I wouldn’t be disappointed and thankfully I went with my instincts. This was one of the best starters I’ve had in a restaurant in a long, long time.
The strips of beef Carpaccio on top were packed with more flavour than you could dare anticipate from such small pieces of meat and the sweetness of the chestnut soup contrasted them well.
For his main my boyfriend tried the 63° chicken breast, morel mushroom sauce and gratin dauphinois (£14.80). It’s their signature dish. The chicken is cooked at 63 degrees on a low heat with the aim of giving unique flavour. Of course it also gives the restaurants name.
I only tried a little of the chicken. If I’m being totally honest I couldn’t taste a huge difference. It was beautifully cooked though and the skin was nice and crispy which may well have being helped by the special circumstances in which it was cooked. The dauphinois potatoes were however the star of the show, packed with so much mouth watering taste. Cheesy, creamy and perfectly crisp, it was all I could do not to lean across the plate and quite literally steal them from him.
I’ll admit to some food envy on my behalf but I had more than enough on my own plate to contend with. I had salmon cooked on one side, black risotto and parsley foam. (£16). The salmon was cooked perfectly and the black risotto was plentiful, but it was the parsley foam that really made the dish what it was. Who would have thought a tiny little bit of foam could hold such stunning flavours? And it’s exactly that kind of daring and imaginative cooking that marks 63° above other restaurants in Manchester that are in this price range. To think such culinary delights can be found in this less than glamorous pocket of the Northern Quarter!
The dinner was wrapped up with a shared desert, by this point it was all I could handle. We had pistachio macaroon and raspberry pulp which was heavenly. Soft and fluffy on the inside, hard and crispy on the outside and laced throughout with big chunky raspberries. This desert was the perfect ending to the perfect meal. All of this plus water for the table and a bottle of rose came to a light £84 which I more than happily parted with.
Next time a special occasion crops up I’ll reconsider my usual haunts like Grill On The Alley or San Carlo. This intimately run family restaurant packs much more personality and magic than most of them put together. Well worth a visit.
So what do you think? Reckon you’ll give it a go? Check out the menu which I’m sure you will agree is imaginative and inspiring. Thanks to the staff whose politeness and attentiveness made this a perfect meal.
All comments are welcome 🙂